A purely superficial look at some of the coolest album artwork of the year
Andrew Trendell

16:37 9th December 2013

In this digital age, it's wonderful to see so many artists still taking the time to care about what their albums look like beyond the realms of a few pixels on an iPod. As we approach end of 2013, let's take a moment to admire the most beautiful record sleeves of the year, and celebrate truly brilliant artwork and graphic design. 

For you few cavemen and women who still visit your local record shops, these are the LPs that grab your eye and capture your imagination - making the album a work of art, regardless of the music inside.

Join as us, as we appreciate the sleeves that turn your record collection into an art gallery, with these - the 30 best and most beautiful album covers of 2013. 

  • !!! - 'Thriller': As immediate and provocative as the album itself, this sleeve is drenched in a summery sense of celebration.

  • Suede - 'Bloodsports': This sleeve just screams with tension, energy and sex -the three things that were sadly missing from Suede's comeback LP.

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - 'Push The Sky Away': Hard to believe that this stunning shot was actually taken by chance by photographer Dominique Issermann following a shoot for Cave's model wife, Susie Bick (the naked lady on the right). Taken in their own bedroom you know. Saucy.

  • C2C - 'Tetra': A carnival of colour for a festival of sound, this makes you wanna party, right?

  • Queens of the Stone Age - '...Like Clockwork': This dark, brooding and soon to be iconic piece of terrifying genius is the handywork of British artist Boneface. It's probably the most arresting image you'll see on the Tube or Subway this year.

  • Daughter - 'If You Leave': Haunting yet calming and fragile - just like the gorgeous music that awaits inside.

  • Foals - 'Holy Fire': Quite fitting for the third full-length LP from Foals, Leif Podhajsky was behind this bold and ambitious sleeve. Check out the incredible album artwork that he's also done for The Horrors, Bonobo, Tame Impala, Mount Kimbie and TOY.

  • Rudimental - 'Home': A timeless and captivating sleeve for an album of furistic and monumental sounds.

  • Sigur Ros - 'Kveikur': The vinyl of this LP just landed on our desk and we can confirm that it is mighty beautiful. Dark, bold, enigmatic, haunting - everything that you can expect from the forthcoming effort from Iceland's finest.

  • The National - 'Trouble Will Find Me': Bohyun Yook is the one to thank for this monolithic image that adorns the sleeve to one of the year's most critically-acclaimed albums. Open to countless interpretations, it certainly makes for a powerful image for a powerful record.

  • Crystal Fighters - 'Cave Rave': This tribal-esque design just proves that there is beauty in simplicity.

  • Boards of Canada - 'Tomorrow's Harvest': Inspired by issues of mortality, band member Mike Sandison said that the album was "not post-apocalyptic so much as it is about an inevitable stage that lies in front of us." That's perfectly represented here by a beautiful and open horizon.

  • Post War Years - 'Galapagos': Piercing, trippy and exigent, this is exactly the sort of design that vinyl sleeves were made for.

  • Janelle Monae - 'The Electric Lady, Suites IV and V': The effortless queen of cool, Monae has stunned with her latest release (just don't mention the similarity to Amerie's Because I Love It album cover...)

  • Daft Punk - Random Access Memories': One Word: iconic

  • Asgeir Trausti - 'Dyro i dauopogn': A sleeve that as ludic, dreamy and arresting as the music within, Iceland's Asgeir perfectly reflected the colourful beauty of his debut with this truly stunning cover.

  • Jon Hopkins - 'Immunity': The Mercury-nominated dance cult hero went for artwork that was as awesome but abstract as the music itself.

  • David Bowie - 'The Next Day': By subverting the classic "Heroes" sleeve, designer Jonathan Barnbrook reflected the bold statement of a record loaded with the sense of an artist looking back at a colourful life behind him - and instead of being weighed down or having to compete with his own legacy, he stamped the present day all over it and carried it with him to use all of his acquired artistry and experience to say something in a language that only Bowie can. It looks awesome on vinyl too.

  • Woodkid - 'The Golden Age': If there's one artist around at the moment that truly understands the power of a strong image, it's Woodkid. Continuing the haunting and unforgettable visuals of his world-class music videos, this sleeve is as iconic as they come.

  • CHVRCHES - 'The Bones Of What You Believe': Simple, clean, and immediate perfection done with flair, colour and precision - just like the album itself.

  • James Blake - 'Overgrown': A clean but bold statement intent from a musical hero in the making.

  • Bonobo - 'The North Borders': A cool and moody visual delight that proves the beauty of symmetry.

  • Capital Cities - 'A Tidal Wave Of Mystery': We have no idea what's going on, but we're having a really good time.

  • Lady Gaga - 'ARTPOP': A sleeve that's both clever and artful, with an surprisingly thoughtful approach that uses nudity as a reference point for a considered visual, rather than mere mindless titillation.

  • Holy Ghost - 'Dynamics': A brilliant sketch of two people getting off with each other with rabid dogs for hair. It might be saying something of the schizophrenic dynamics of love, or it might look really bloody cool. Either way, stunning stuff.

  • 65DaysOfStatic - 'Wild Light': These post-rockers excel at controlled insanity with dizzying effect. This sleeve perfectly encapsulates that.

  • The 1975 - The 1975: After spending nearly a decade working on their sound and image, Matt Healy and co arrived on the scene with fully-formed with a thoroughly considered aesthetic. Their lightbox cover is a striking testament to their monolithic ambitions.

  • Arcade Fire - 'Reflektor': Rather than hint at the tropical disco elements of the album, Win Butler and co referenced the ancient mythical themes of the lyrics and heightened the sense of occasion with this monumental image.

  • Kavinsky - 'Outrun': Who's up for a retro 1980s computer game sci-fi adventure?

  • Los Campesinos - 'No Blues': Yup, no blues here - just an evocative and dream-like visual that immediately seizes the imagination.